D.I.Y. Stunning Titled Photos in 5 Easy & Free Steps

Thursday, September 5, 2013

DIY Stunning Titled Photos in 5 Easy & Free Steps

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DIY Stunning Titled Photos in 5 Easy & Free Steps from www.anyonita-nibbles.com
I get asked  lot of blog-related questions, but one I get asked most often is how I title my photos. I've found that it's something that stands out on Facebook, too. Amongst my blog's followers and my personal friends, I usually get asked two questions:
  1. Do you really cook all of that?! and
  2. How do you add the text and stuff to your photos?
As I discussed in my post Why, When & How to Watermark Blog Photos, I think watermarking is important. When done properly it can help to prevent your photos from being stolen and it can enhance your posts. Plus, it grants you valuable opportunity on sites like Twitter and Pinterest where users have short attention spans (limited number of characters in tweets and the sheer volume and speed at which people pin reflect this).

By saying up front what readers can get by clicking a photo link, you have an opportunity to advertise your post or series and to draw them in. So today, I'm going to give you five easy and free steps for heading in the "right" direction when it comes to titling your photos.

As a former journalist and newspaper photographer, I approach photos quite differently than most bloggers. I've realized that to make my blog stand out and to avoid becoming unnecessarily frustrated, I've got to play to my strengths. While all those photos with strategically placed props and dirty dishes and forks wrapped in ribbons look beautiful and while I do wish I could throw together a food scene like those, it's not my strong suit. I absolutely suck at food styling.

What I am good at, however, is taking food portraits that tell a story. In newspaper photography, it's one of the key elements and it's the same with blogging. People should be able to look at your photo and pick up on a bit of a story without having to read any accompanying text.

This can be a bit tricky to do with food photography because sometimes, what really elevates a dish is all the elements you can't see straight away that need to be pointed out. That's why we title our photos. Here's how you get started:

Think about titling while you're taking photographs
Editing begins at the creation stage. There's nothing worse than taking good photos only to find after the meal has been eaten, that I don't have any suitable ones for attaching a title to.
The best method to prevent this is to position yourself while you're taking photos to place a titled watermark on them. Once you've taken all you need, have a quick look at them while they're still on your camera, while the food is untouched or the project is finished or put away and visualize where you could place a title.

You'll generally want to take photos that have a bit of dead space for placing your title in. Which is great because by taking photos in this way, you'll be utilizing the Rule of Thirds. It doesn't matter how or where you off center the subject, but what tends to work best is getting some good height or depth on vertical shots and getting enough space to the sides on horizontal shots. Check out these examples:

In these first two, I deliberately left space while taking the photos for the text. So that when it was time to add text, I already had an idea of where I wanted it to go. All I needed to do was choose which photo was the sharpest. (Take multiple shots of the same angle if you're not using a tripod to prevent camera shake and a blurred subject.)

Sometimes, it's not practical to leave dead space in your photos like I did in those two. When this is the issue and you choose to flood the photo with color and texture, you'll want to place the text directly over the subject. The key is doing it in a way that will enhance the photo without making the viewer say, "I wonder what's behind that word?" Have a look at these examples:

This photo works because the text is so far down that it's nearly off the photo. It's only covering a small percentage of the shot.

This photo works because even with the second plate in soft focus in the background, it's obvious as to what it is. And if there was any doubt, the text covering it reiterates it.

This  photo works much like a print. The eclairs and chilies are in such repetition that it's obvious that the only thing behind the text would be what's in the other 90% of the photograph.

State the Obvious
Coming up with what to say in your titled photographs doesn't have to be difficult. Don't be afraid to state the obvious. If you're looking at a bowl of soup, then make sure the word soup is in the photograph. Look at that last photo. Anyone could tell you that there are eclairs and chillies in that photo just by looking at it. But what they won't be able to gleam is what's inside. Which leads me to my next tip:

State the Not-So-Obvious
You wouldn't know from that photo that those eclairs were filled with cinnamon spiced custard cream. So I've said it. Other than the chilli chocolate, that custard cream is the standout ingredient of the dish. As such, it deserves to be pointed out. You'll also notice the word "Thornton's" on the photo. If you're not familiar with the chocolate market here in the UK, that may not mean much to you. But Thornton's sponsored that post and it was the brand of chocolate I used. Another fact that wouldn't be obvious just by looking but that is important. Especially from the sponsor's point of view.

Develop your own style and have confidence in it
While it's a good idea to look at examples of titled photos that you think work nicely, it's a better idea to push yourself to develop your own titling style. Maybe you like the look of using banners or scalloped circles to display the title on? Maybe you prefer straight text on the photo? It doesn't really matter which style you adapt as long as it's one you're comfortable with. For me, it's a mix of styles. For some bloggers, there's uniformity across everything they do to the point that all the photos look the same and are titled in exactly the same way. Again, there's no right or wrong way, there's just what works for you.

Get familiar with the available tools
Programs like Photoshop, PicMonkey Royale, Lightbox and PhotoPlus are all well and good but they can cost a small fortune. Really, there's no need to spend any money when it comes to adding titles to your photos. All you need is a few good tools and a basic understanding of them. 

My trifecta of titling tools are: Pictaculous, PicMonkey (the free version) and most importantly Picasa. Without going into much detail, let's take a quick peek at these three tools:

Picasa is my main photo storing and editing program. All of my blog photos automatically get uploaded to Picasa and I use the options available to title all of my photos. What makes Picasa really great for titling photos is the fact that it runs all of the fonts on your computer. So, you can jazz up your Picasa experience by downloading new fonts for use. We talked about this briefly and font downloading websites on the post Optimizing Photos for Pinterest.

Pictaculous is a clever little program that allows you to upload any photography you'd like and get a range of suitable color palettes to match. If you're a bit hazy on your color wheel, this is the program for you! It takes all the guess work out of color matching and provides you with appropriate hex codes.

PicMonkey is the best program on the web for banners and cute overlays. They have standard banners (like the one I used in the chilli eclairs photo) for free and more fancy ones at a premium rate. PicMonkey also has their own fonts, both free and premium ones. To be honest, though, I wouldn't use PicMonkey for the free fonts. They are a bit ... less impressive than those that you can download yourself.

Those are my five tips for do-it-yourself stunning titled photos. Be sure to come back next week, when we'll be continuing our talk on titling photos and discussing:

DIY Stunning Titled Photos Walkthrough from www.anyonita-nibbles.com

In the walkthrough, I'll take you through every step of titling photos. We'll also look more in depth at Picasa, PicMonkey and Pictaculous and I'll show you how to use each program and loads more! Don't miss out!

DIY Stunning Titled Photos in 5 Easy and Free Steps From www.anyonita-nibbles.com

1 comment:

  1. This is something I've always wanted to learn. Thanks for both going into the details of design..


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